Tuesday, December 16, 2008

lovely bones

Sandwiched between living in San Francisco and Los Angeles, I had a brief sojourn in Boston. The house we owned, was built in the late 1800s and had turrets, coffered ceilings, a back stair case, third floor maid's quarters, a fire place in every bedroom... you get the idea. It was an elegant, proud, gentleman of a house nestled in an urban scape.
So happy to, once again, have a young family running through the hallways, his warmth held us, protected us and watched as we brought home a new baby and bade goodbye to an old dog. If he had a scent it would be of oil cloth, soap and sweet pipe tobacco. He was the John Gielguld of houses. I was in love and miss him so.
I've always lived in older homes. Before my Boston home, was a lovely old Edwardian in San Francisco. She was the old neglected, awkward spinster who had no idea how to dress or what colors to wear anymore. She wore a mullet of house paint: pink with teal trim on the front and yellow with brown trim on the back. It had been more than 40 years since a family had called her their home.
A survivor of 'the big quake', she had a quiet inner strength that I felt right away. I was the young friend that showed her the way. Took her shopping, to get her nails done, and all that good stuff. With a bit of sanding, polishing, paint and a tiny tweak of a face lift {kitchen} she exuded her inner beauty, proudly.
She was the one awake with me in the middle of night, labor in full grip, her floor boards squeaking as I paced. Later she would rattle her ancient windows at the fog as I sat up rocking my baby. That house became my dear friend during those early morning hours. We had found each other, because it was meant to be~I think for that, we were both grateful.
A friend of mine recently sent me a link to this beautiful blog {two straight lines} I've been sitting here scrolling through the photos of this woman's home all morning,
enlarging the images and drinking it all in. Such a treat to see, the beautiful bones of an old home. I can see from these images, that this is a home who has seen a lot of 'family'. She is a proud one, in her beauty. She's as beautiful stark naked, as she is beautifully adorned.
*sigh* I challenge you, give me a newly built house that can stand on its own and be almost more beautiful naked than dressed. I don't believe they exist. I wouldn't even need a dining table in here. I would happily sit on an old quilt to a candle lit meal.
people don't build houses with this sort of integrity and artistry anymore. And with this much love, detail and thought put into the building of a home, births the beginning of the soul of a house.
Below, is a shot of her neighbor's home.
Which you can't even see~for the trees.
Which is pretty damn dreamy.
{Do you know that there's 6 feet between my house and either neighbor's house? Imagine my envy right now. }
Heres' to the lovely bones of an older home and those of you fortunate enough to inhabit them.
I still go by my old houses whenever I'm in town. For a few years the San Francisco sister was hard for me to see, in the arms of another. But she looks to be well taken care of and loved. I always give her a mental wink and long warm hug each time I see her funny old face. I know that we'll always have that special bond.

39 comments:

Karena said...

Megan, very lovely story and images. I love older homes, although I am now in a newer condo, it does at least have some saving graces, like crown molding. It's just not the same though!

Mrs. Blandings said...

Lovely. Absolutely beautiful.

this vignette said...

You know I agree. But, I wonder if people in that neighborhood would envy your proximity to the beach!

Anonymous said...

Are you ready to give up the cottage? Is there a big older home calling your name? Very interesting!

vicki archer said...

A lovely analogy - I love the 'San Francisco sister' - beautifully put, xv.

beachbungalow8 said...

I know my beach proximity is truly ridiculous. And when we left that old boston house, I was so excited at the prospect of being practically on the sand. I'm thankful, daily, for the beach down the street.

But trying to find a house in this neck of the woods that has any charm...is really difficult.

We're staying put for awhile. Even thought the quarters are cramped. Nothing in town piques my interest.

I really think my next house may have to be architect {as in AIA architect} designed and very modern, industrial in feel. the total opposite. I like the idea of the juxtaposition.

Paloma said...

I love the way you described your San Francisco home...so poetic. These pictures are lovely.

Pigtown-Design said...

What a lovely story! I've never lived in a house younger than 100 years, so I agree completely on the charm of older houses.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Lovely old home indeed. Just exquisite. Edward and I live in an old home ourselves, and we both wouldn't trade it for anything!

Courtney said...

Thanks for your nice post about my house. I feel like I know my old homes as well. And I don't feel like that at all about my newer homes. I used to live in Boston as well.

Ivy Lane said...

Great feeling to this post.. I MISS my old apartment over looking Lake Erie, then my old charming home with its nooks and crannies .. now in a newly built home.. MISSSSS the old..

Stay put til ya know! and my gosh.. beach... leave..beach.. what???

erika @ urban grace said...

this might be my most favorite bb8 post ever! we always lived in old houses, and now i find myself in a new one... it's hard to make it mine. the house we lived in during middle-high school had all sorts of creaks and squeaks... i knew right where to step and where not to step when i got home past my curfew, there was even an entire stair tread you had to bypass- it was the squeakiest of all.

beachbungalow8 said...

erika! ME TOO! In highschool, I found that if I walked, not in the middle of the stair case but on the side, there would not be any squeaking. that's so funny. I hadn't thought of that until you mentioned it!

Courtney said...

it was like your soul was speaking to mine. ahhhh you know my love of old homes. i wrap my arms around this 80+ year old house each time I walk in. It's so homey and so so welcoming. All the time. Whether it's dirty or clean, it always feels like home and always welcomes me with the most warming feel.

...and I don't know what you and Erika are talking about. Because I never snuck out past my bedtime at my parent's house.... Only when I stayed at friend's houses and then I'd take it up a notch by stealing their parent's car and picking up other friends along the way to visit the boys across town.

Blue Muse said...

This post is absolutely beautiful. I, too, love old houses. I grew up in them back east and the way you poetically described your homes really moved me -- and made me miss mine.

xo Isa

cmoi said...

What an incredibly beautiful post. I couldn't agree more about how homes are built these days, so cookie-cutter; where's the personality and charm? You captured the essence of a home's soul for those lucky enough to live in them. Merci.

ALL THE BEST said...

I love this post and the photos are wonderful! Our flat in Scotland was built in 1905 and it's so full of character!

beachbungalow8 said...

thanks girls. I know that you who have owned or lived in an old house, understand that they have a 'soul'of their own.

Black Dog Salvage said...

we couldn't agree with you more - great post and so, so true!

Gretchen said...

I love this entry. I grew up in New Orleans in the Garden District in a Victorian and there is simply no substitute for that type of living. I can completely relate to everything you wrote! Thanks for sharing.

dolcechic said...

I love this post. The home is gorgeous. It's amazing to think of how much in San Francisco has survived the quakes, and the fire of 1906. For instance The Palace Of Fine Arts which was hand carved, and has made it through every natural disaster.

Visual Vamp said...

I love the way you assign genders to these old houses you've lived in.
This is some darn good writing Miz M!
As an adult, I have always chosen an old house to live in. They're the best!
xo xo

northsidefour said...

Thank you, sometimes it's hard to say just what you have said. I wouldn't trade my old spot for anything, which shocks some, you know there's no granite here, and we are just fine with that. Lovely.

LindsB said...

Old homes has to be one of my favorite things about living in Boston (that and the winter, yes I know I am crazy) Each one is so different and has an awesome story to tell, I love walking around town looking at all the houses and brownstones. The number one reason we are renting the apartment we live in now is because it was old, and had those character flaws in it, I didnt want a new place that was cookie cutter at all! I cant wait to find a "fixer-upper" in Boston to buy and call my very own, flaws and all.

Cote de Texas said...

Whoa - girl, this was wonderful! I loved the imagery. Really beautifully written. I would love to read more of your "serious" writings!!! and this house is just too beautiful. You are sooo right.

franki durbin said...

As much as I love the "clean palette" that new construction affords, I agree... that house has seen "so much family"... what an elegant way to say it!

I'm loving the many built in storage options. *sigh* lovely!

amber {daisy chain} said...

oh, I love all the built-ins, you just won't find those sweet touches in newer homes. beautiful post!

Fifi Flowers said...

I sooooooo LOVE older homes... my bathrooms have tile floors like in your old home... I have a 1930s home... I can't imagine ever living in a new home.

Dianne said...

Best post you've ever done!

BonjourBruxelles said...

*sigh*

Every time we drive past your old home I point it out to the kids and wish you still lived there.

But now we have a very compelling reason to show the kids the Pacific! Not such a bad trade-off.

Terri said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I adore character homes and old homes made with care. We live in a young city and I hate living in a builders Heinz 57 house. We just couldn't afford the few downtown neighborhoods with character. Some day...

Great post! Terri

hello gorgeous said...

I love this post - really beautifully written.

I am lucky enough to be caretaker of our beautiful old 100+ y/o house. It sounds like it's soul sisters with your old house in Boston.

And I know for a fact that my daughter has figured out how to manipulate the creaky stairs. Stinker.

katiedid said...

I love good old house. I can't imagine living in anything else. That top photo looks a little like our house...same era.

Wanted to wish you a smashing good Christmas and loads of prosperity and happiness for the New Year!!!!!

Velvet and Linen said...

Old homes have the best detailing. Steve and I are always striving to make our new homes feel like the homes of the 1920's. I love all of the built in cabinets and cubbies, the fun tiles in the bathrooms, and the french doors throughout the homes. I know I sound like a fuddy duddy, but why don't they build them like that anymore?

xo
Brooke

M.Lane said...

Lovely post. I wonder if people 80 years ago said the same thing about the new houses being built then...and about the old ones?

I read this piece over three times in a row it was so pretty. Well done!

ML
mlanesepic.blogspot.com

g said...

Commenting late, having found this post. Your photos are marvelous. I grew up in brand new homes - my parents either had the home built for us, or bought brand new homes whenever we moved, and I always longed for an older home. My two homes in Seattle were old homes - one had a wacky charm, the other a gracious beauty.

But here in Southern California we fell head over heels in love with a 1960s mid-century, which we bought from the original owner/builder. It always surprises me how I - lover of moldings and cornices and bay windows - have taken so much to this spare and beautiful house.

Anne @ Pink Galoshes said...

I just adore older homes, they are so charming and so full of history! I love the tile floor in the bathroom and the staircase is stunning! Thanks for sharing.

Anne

shanon said...

This is such a lovely post. I believe you 100% that this cannot be found in new construction. I live in a 1929 stucco cottage in Minneapolis, near the Mississippi river. I fell in love with the built in linen closet, the vintage wallpaper in the hallway, the chandelier with the ornate wall switch, and the glass door knobs with skeleton keys.
I will never live in new construction if I can help it. I too believe in the souls of these houses... and your words are profound.
Best wishes!

No.35style said...

I have always loved old houses. They just have so much history about them. I grew up in an old house and since being married have always lived in an old house. I hope to always be fortunate enough to live in an old home.

the B to the Log

it's all about me, really.

My Photo
Manhattan Beach, California, United States
editor | interior designer | podcast personality | social media pollinator